The Life & Death of the Dab Dance

It started in the trap, went all the way to Hillary Clinton, and today the dab officially died.
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It started in the trap, went all the way to Hillary Clinton, and today the dab officially died.

Dances, like the changing of the seasons and the careers of rappers, come and go but no dance in recent memory so completely transfixed the nation like the dab. From its humble beginnings in the trap to its peak, when nearly 120 million people were watching the Super Bowl just waiting for the chance to dab alongside Cam Newton (or be furious at him for dabbing), the dab's rise and fall was meteoric. 

Today though, the dab died at the hands of one of its creators, Quavo, of Migos. To honor it's oh-so-short time on this Earth, we look back at the life and times of the dab. 

Birth: Summer 2014 

Like all cultural movements there's some debate around exactly who started the dab dance. More than likely it was a nameless Atlanta teenager, but the first people to truly start generating the wave were the Quality Control crew: Migos, Rich the Kid and perhaps most prominently, Skippa da Flippa. 

Rise: Spring, 2015

I check out the Ear Drummers/Rae Sremmurd show at SXSW and everyone onstage is doing this thing where they drop their heads and throw up one arm every time the beat drops. Half the audience is right there with them, the other half is seemingly as confused as I am. Then, just a month later, I'm at an Earl Sweatshirt show and he does the same move, it's hard to tell if he's serious or joking. There's obviously a new dance thing happening in hip-hop, I assemble the DJBooth team to explain

Peak: Winter 2015

It's officially on and poppin. While Snapchat and Vine spread the dance to every teenager in United States, athletes from LeBron to Cam Newton pick it up and bring it to mainstream America. If you want something to blow up, sneak it in during a NFL game. Now the dab was officially a thing; media outlets who otherwise barely touch hip-hop rushed to cover it, everyone in the background of live news feeds did it, politicians trying to seem cool while on Ellen dabbed, there wasn't a corner of American culture it didn't reach. What started as a dance in Atlanta trap music circles had become the 2015 version of the Macarena or the electric slide.  

For all the multitudes of dabs that were dabbed though, there was perhaps none greater than this kid who pulled it off during a Christian ministry pledge drive. We salute you anonymous young man, you're a true American hero. 

Death: June 20, 2016

TMZ catches Migos outside of LAX and Quavo officially declares what's been obvious for months now: like "bling" or the Nae Nae before it, the dab is officially being retired. Of course just like its rise it will take time for it to disappear completely - JR Smith dabbed last night in celebration, Desiigner's going to be doing his spastic dab thing for months to come - but the life support's been pulled. 

Two years, that's how long the dab lasted. That's longer than the life of a fruit fly, not quite the lifespan of a hamster and it'll be another five years or so before it becomes nostalgically cool again. It was a fun ride while it lasted, but it's onto the next now. Speaking of which...

By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.

Photo Credit: Instagram